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East Multnomah County cities discuss programs to implement Metro requirements

With Metro regional government requiring Portland-area food service establishments to separate food scraps from other garbage, Fairview and Wood Village are taking actions to get their programs moving forward.

All cities within the Portland metro area required to adopt ordinances by Wednesday, July 31, that will require any business that generates more than 250 pounds of food waste to process the scraps separate from other waste. While the ordinances must be in place by the end of July, the food waste recycling program won't begin until March 2020.

Fairview Public Works Director Allan Berry updated the City Council on Wednesday, June 19, about how the city is moving forward with its program.

"The reason they did this is because food's the single largest portion of metro waste, and a major contributor to the methane gas in the air pollution," Berry said. "Basically, more than half the food disposed in the greater Portland area comes from businesses."

The new requirements will only apply to food waste generated in an establishment's kitchen, and scraps tossed by customers are not subject to the restrictions.

Neighboring city Wood Village first discussed a food waste recycling program on Thursday, April 25. Many establishments in the 1 square-mile city were ahead of the curve because the municipality began a voluntary food waste disposal program in 2011.

Wood Village voted on the code requirements on Thursday, June 27. Results of that vote were not available by The Outlook's press deadline.

The Metro requirement only makes businesses separate food waste from garbage and does not yet establish a way to compost the food waste.

Metro is negotiating with its waste management providers, and if the regional government entity can strike a deal, food scraps will be converted into electricity by an anaerobic digester at the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services' Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Facility, Metro's website indicates.

The food-waste program will organize businesses into three categories depending on the amount of food waste the organization generates. Before Fairview's next council meeting on Wednesday, July 17, city staff will be organizing each business into those three categories.

Having staff implement the program will cost the city money, Berry noted, but it's unclear how much.

"The specific fiscal impacts are not totally known yet because the rollout has got to be in place (first)," he said. "But Metro has agreed, and they said they're going to fund the first five years of this program to support the rollout."

One of the larger Metro contributions will be purchasing food-scrap recycling bins. While Metro is offering financial assistance for the rollout, it also plans to withhold money from municipalities that don't adopt the food-scrap recycling requirements.

"If we don't get into compliance in a certain amount of time we can lose other Metro funding as well," Berry said. "So there is a significance to doing this."

When does it start?

Metro regional government adopted an ordinance requiring businesses generating more than 250 pounds of food waste per week to separate food scraps from their garbage.

Businesses that generate 1,000 pounds or more of food waste per week will be required to follow the standard by March 31, 2021. Organizations that generate 500 pounds or more of food scraps per week will be required to implement the standard by Sept. 30, 2022. Kindergarten through 12th grade schools, and businesses that generate 250 pounds or more of food scraps per week will need to implement the program by September 2023.

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